Sydney Post-Punk band Loose Fit are “focusing on the little victories for the moment”

Photo courtesy of Loose Fit. Handmade collage by B.

We love Loose Fit’s rhythm-heavy groove-driven post-punk no-wave sound. Their self-titled debut EP  was released as a limited cassette run in 2018, but was recently put out on 12” vinyl by UK label FatCat Records. We spoke to them about the release, their beginnings and more.  

How has your day been? What did you get you get up?

MAX: I’m currently ‘working’ from home. I’m waiting for the phone to ring so I can help someone with their issues using Zoom, as I am apparently an expert since two months ago.

Outside of music what do you do?

KAYLENE: I run a little knitwear label called WAH-WAH Australia and work as a design consultant.

MAX: Just the boring normal stuff. I work a normal job, enjoy socialising on the weekends etc. I’ve been enjoying cooking a lot more recently.

ANNA: I make art, illustration, painting and other. I also freelance as a social-systems designer and right now I’m doing work as a Speculative Futurist, which is basically a dream come true where I get to make sci-fi artefacts and tell people they have been sent back to us from the future.

RICHARD: I’m a video editor.

Photo by Zafiro.

What’s an album that you’ve listened to more than any other? As a music fan what do you appreciate most about it?

KAYLENE: Naughty Boys – YMO. It’s the perfect pop album. It manages to do that thing where it makes you happy and nostalgic at the same time, and such cool synth sounds!

MAX: Too hard to be completely definitive, but one I’ve been obsessed with in recent years and keep returning to is Arthur Russell – Calling Out Of Context. It’s mentioned briefly in the AR doco how he loved riding the ferry and being on the water, and that feeling often filtered into his music somehow. I love that feeling in these songs, how they just kinda meander and float by with this kinda pleasant wistfulness. They’re also still super catchy somehow! He’s a master.

ANNA: Animal Collective archive I have been revisiting for years. When I feel boxed in, I listen to them and I feel myself again.

What was your first introduction to D.I.Y. world?

KAYLENE: I grew up playing trumpet in brass bands and orchestras, which was not in line with what I was listening to, or wanted to play, but it was a great musical training. When I was in year 11, I saw an advertisement on the Wollongong Music Scene online forum looking for a trumpeter to play some mariachi style trumpet on a rock album. After my debut in the rock and roll world, I joined a local band of misfits called The Nice Folk.

MAX: I had a couple of bands during and just after high school, so I guess we were ‘doing it ourselves’ back then? Not because we were super aware of DIY as an ethos or a musical subculture, we were just entertaining ourselves.

ANNA: Tangentially to music….My D.I.Y sensibilities came through my love of fashion and making things. When I was 10 I started designing and making my own outfits and accessories. In high school my friends and I had heaps of little fashion businesses and sold things at music festivals and all ages gigs and markets. We even made swing tags and brand labels.

Pic courtesy of Loose Fit.

I understand that Kaylene and Anna first met at fashion school and bonded over a mutual love of experimental music; what were some of these bands/artists? What was your first impression of each other?

KAYLENE: Fashion school was so all consuming that we didn’t really get a chance to bond over shared musical interests until after we graduated. That was almost a decade ago now, but I remember Anna introduced me to some cool artists like Anna Meredith and Blues Control. We went to a Holy Balm gig together and that really got us talking about synthesisers, and what music we could potentially make with the electronic music gear my brother had given me.

First impressions of Anna? Charismatic, good dancer and intensely creative.

ANNA: I knew Kaylene had an entire room in her house dedicated to records, and at fashion school she also had a vintage designer handbag and a pair of Ann Demeulemeester lace up boots. So I knew she was FRESHHHHH. She is such a clever designer. I had crippling social anxiety during fashion school, it was hard to make friends properly. During fashion school I used to go to gigs by myself at Black Wire and this artist run experimental spot in Chippendale called Serial Space and a grimy stinkhole under an escalator in Chinatown called The Square. I saw the most inspiring stuff at those places, especially Serial Space.

What inspired you to start Loose Fit?

KAYLENE: Until forming Loose Fit, I’d always found myself playing in other people’s bands as the trumpeter. It was satisfying in the sense that playing music with others is always (usually) a fun experience, but it wasn’t necessarily the music I felt I wanted to be making.

ANNA: I felt angry.

Can you describe Loose Fit in a sentence please?

RICHARD: No instrument more important than any other instrument.

ANNA: I still feel pretty angry.

Loose Fit started out with Kaylene and Anna doing lo-fi bedroom recordings; did you have an initial idea of what you wanted to sound like? How did you get started?

KAYLENE: Loose Fit is actually the coming together of two half formed musical projects. Anna and I knew we wanted to make music together, but we only really got as far as learning how to program beats on Ableton, and how to integrate analogue synths and old drum machines and record on a somewhat archaic 8-track mixer that we couldn’t export the audio from. Not long after, Max and I started throwing around the idea of making some music together. Our first attempts involved synthesisers and experimental trumpet, before I jumped on the drums and decided that’s where I’d like to sit. So I guess we started out thinking we were going to be more experimental than where we ended up.

ANNA: I used to joke with my friends that I was going to quit my job, go art school and join a rock band. And then eventually all those things happened. And lucky, because otherwise I’d still be recording videos of myself lip-syncing to Brian Ferry and posting them on the internet.

How’d Richard and Max get involved in the band? How did you meet?

RICHARD: Max was (and is) Kaylene’s boyfriend, I was a friend of Kaylene’s. The first time we were all in a room together was our first rehearsal.

Your self-titled EP was released in 2018 and in April this year UK label Fat Cat Records put it out again; have you been working on anything new? What can you tell us about it so far?

RICHARD: We’re working towards an album and recorded a bunch of tracks but it all got put on hold (like everything else) back in March. We just started rehearsing again and have been working on new stuff so we might try and get back into the studio soon.

ANNA: New songs, many new songs. I really like the new songs. So fun! I really miss playing them at gigs.

How do you write? Is it collaboratively? What’s your process?

RICHARD: A lot of our songs come from stuff that just happened in rehearsal and we liked it. We’ll often just start playing until we hit on something that feels cool. We try and come up with interesting places to take it, and then edit pretty hard to turn the bits into a tight song. Sometimes someone will come in with a bit – like Max came up with Pull The Lever’s main bassline. But nobody brings a completed song and plays it on an acoustic or anything gross like that.

ANNA: Yeah and we tried to do long distance Covid songwriting over email but it sucks.

Can you share with us one of your favourite moments from writing and/or recording your s/t LP back in 2018? I read that you recorded it in one weekend.

MAX: I can’t really think of a particular moment, but the whole process was a real delight. I’m sure everyone who’s been in a band can relate to that intense burst of energy and excitement when you first get together, write your first few songs, play your first handful of shows and make your first recording. It was a blast. Also, Anna had never played in a band before and Kaylene had never played drums. We approached the EP more or less just as a document of what we had achieved in that first 6-8 months.

ANNA: Playing our first shows!!!!!!!! I was so nervous we’d play to an empty room, but all my friends caught the train up from Thirroul to Petersham Bowling Club to see us play! What a buzzzzzzzzz though. Every time someone invites us to play a show I’m still flattered.

RICHARD: We did the EP with Jono Boulet, it was a pretty fast and furious session in his little studio in Marrickville. There wasn’t much overthinking, they were all songs we knew pretty well and we just smashed through them.

The album art features details of “Lost In Highway” a painting by Botond Keresztesi; how did you first find their work? What attracted you to using it for your cover?

ANNA: I discovered Botond through Nick Santoro I think. They have a similar language in their art. It’s one of those things. You see an image it is just obvious that it is perfect for the sound of the music and the mood. I can’t explain it. But I do love the post-internet hyper-real style of Botond’s art, and the sort of awkward non-spaces of the scenes he paints. Objects floating and existing, somewhere kinda vacant and artificial, in no particular time or place.

In regards to song writing, what is one of your biggest challenges?

MAX: Sometimes it’s just hard! Sometimes we’ll stumble upon something and end up with a song an hour later, but other times ideas are just less forthcoming.

RICHARD: Everyone in the band listens to a pretty wide variety of stuff. I think we’re all interested in exploring lots of different territory stylistically. Maybe the challenge is doing that while making sure we retain the band’s own style and personality.

ANNA: Being able to retain the same off-the-cuff natural energy of jamming and chaotic improvised lyricism in the final refined song.

A couple of months ago you released a film clip for song ‘Black Water’; can you please tell us a bit about the day of shooting it?

MAX: It was a really fun day! Two of my friends from work helped us out behind the camera. Solomon directed/shot it and Gabe helped out ‘on set’ and shot some great photos. One of the dancers, Cait, is an old school friend of mine that I called upon when we needed a couple of ballroom guns. So it was just a whole lot of fun. I think it turned out really great too. We’d sort of had the basic idea rattling around for a while but when we pitched it to Solomon he really brought the final thing together and made it look super schmick. Total pro.

ANNA: It was pouring with rain and the roof of this heritage listed hall we rented was leaking. Gabe had to mop the floor between every take so the dancers wouldn’t slip. Kaylene and I spent most of the day applying makeup and fake nails. Richard brought one of his attractive vintage speaker systems for set dressing. All our costumes were from charity shops and we were aiming for daggy-glam but we kind of ended up looking like a rip off Gucci campaign.

What’s next for Loose Fit?

MAX: Hopefully we can finish the album soon! Just focusing on the little victories for the moment I guess.

ANNA: Bringing heaps of hand sanitiser to band practice.

Please check out: LOOSE FIT. Loose Fit on Instagram. Loose Fit’s self-titled LP out on FatCat Records.